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NON Existent Home for Veterans is given Grant from the Veterans Affairs Grant & Per Diem.
Why am I writing this at this time? We are locked in a battle with the VA and Mr. Jeffery Quarles for the NON-termination of Grant & Per Diem over two United Veterans Beacon Houses, Transitional Housing for Veterans in Need for Native American Veterans both male and female. Remember 65% of all Native Americans are VETERANS. Read on - it will be revealed.
It is unbelievable and quite frankly ridiculous that the Veterans of the Vietnam War, Inc. & The Veterans Coalition and the Veterans Fund of the United States are the only ones found at FAULT in this matter. In fact, it cannot be that we bear 100% of the Blame or Fault and the VA bears NONE!
Please take the time to read and write to the Secretary Shinseki and tell him to SUPPORT Veterans as that is his JOB. "Secretary of Veterans Affairs", 810 Vermont Ave, NW. Washington DC 20420.
The VA wants The Veterans of the Vietnam War, Inc. & The Veterans Coalition along with the 501(C)(3) Veterans Fund of the United States to be held to a higher standard and this will prove to all that the Grant and Per Diem Office of the Department of Veterans Affairs does not perform its Due Diligence professionally let alone its other duties.
A few years ago we had two Grant Writers employed and a United Veterans Beacon House in Shreveport, LA. The building was leased to us by a Church Minister who turned out to be a prescription drug addict, etc.
Anyway, without the Board of Directors' knowledge the three people above put together a grant for over $600,000 for a Building and address that didn't exist or was not related to each other.
The Department for Veterans Affairs APPROVED the Grant after they had done their Due Diligence. Due Diligence, means that all the information within the Grant application is real, verified and correct. There was NONE done here. What makes anyone believe they do any? Once the grant was approved, Peter Forbes and Nancy Verespy received the approved grant and started to ask questions.
To our surprise the Grant was put in by the three people above with a photo of a building that didn't exist at the address that wasn't true either. Our Grant Writers were Fired. We severed our Relationship with the Church Minister and closed the United Veterans Beacon House in Shreveport, LA. During the investigation we found many other anomalies that gave us pause - Collusion with the Church Minister, House Manager and VA Homeless Coordinator became evident.
So we did the right thing, we called VA Director Roger Casey and Homeless Coordinator Peter Dougherty to ask about this grant we knew nothing about, wasn't signed by us and was a grant we had not submitted.
They asked us to bring the Grant Copy to Peter Dougherty's office at the VA Headquarters at 810 Vermont Ave, Washington, DC.
We arrived and supplied a copy of the Grant and to say they we embarrassed would be an understatement. They wanted to know the whole story, took the grant copy and told us they would act upon it. I asked how this could possibly happen not just the wrong building, the wrong address, but not even our Signatures? We never did get an answer. We heard nothing more after that meeting. Homeless Veterans lost their home.
What has this got to do with the Grant & Per Diem we got approved for the United Veterans Beacon Houses in Promise and Parade, SD for Native American Homeless Veterans? One in Promise for Native American Male Veterans and the other in Parade for Female Native American Veterans with or without children.
A Great Deal, The Due Diligence for Promise and Parade, SD was completed of the structures and plans for these United Veterans Beacon Houses and the Structure and Plans approved by the Veterans Affairs Grant & Per Diem Office. So we were underway.............. Or so we thought? It looks like NO Due Diligence was completed.
We made trips to the Promise building and found out all the water pipes in the walls and ceilings were burst, how did we know that? We finally found the water meter and turned it on and to our amazement the bottom floor ceiling and walls throughout the house started to look like we were in the monsoons with water coming in from everywhere. That was the start of an adventure! The boiler was blown, heating system hadn't work efficiently for over 30 years, sewer was blocked, no toilets worked and the list goes on. All news to us and even two years ago, we were finishing up the meeting and we were in the dining room when we found there was no framing left in the paneled walls! Upon talking to Scotch Gilbert, who was the cook at the School for 27 years, we learned that the place was flooded some years ago and the Government contractors had covered it up.
Then somewhere out of the Blue after spending some $150,000 in building materials and equipment, traveling to SD a few times when the VA said we had to put in a Fire Sprinkler System. This came out of a meeting with the VA's temporary Liaison and him going back and telling the SD VA that the building was never a residential facility. He didn't know the answers to many questions but I believe the saying in the VA is "fake it til you make it." - didn't need it when the facility was an Indian School and home to a caretaker, wife and twelve children. Yes, parents and twelve children lived in a 40" x 40" area. We didn't put in the Grant for a Fire Sprinkler System as it was grandfathered in due to the residential nature of the past facility. The VA approved the plans and grant without a fire sprinkler system.
If the due diligence was done, why wouldn't the VA come back to us and tell us the plans needed modifying and there needed to be a Fire Sprinkler system included as was included in the Parade section of the Grant?
However, the VA blackmail entered the program - the VA would not pay out the $150,000 for any of the Building Materials, Equipment or travel until we agreed to put in a fire sprinkler system. They would not accept letters from our neighbors or the lady who bore all the children. We held out for many months while our debt built up as building materials and equipment was on placed orders. So we had to capitulate and Roger Casey told us he would try and do something about the grant to include the fire sprinkler system. To our amazement after we agreed no one could remember saying that! So we learned to take it on the chin.
Then we started the construction as per the approved plans and had many of the walls up when the VA CWT Program coordinator, temporary Liaison, came in for a visit and told us the corridor was too narrow, I had a discussion with him about the approved plans, he said it was not handicapped accessible. I stated the handicapped section of the house was not within that area. No go.
So we took all the walls down, doors off, electrics out and so on and that meant we had to add onto the building 40' x 8' by 4' off the ground level. That gave us a new set of problems, the light coming into the meeting and dining area was greatly reduced so we put windows in the outer walls and inner walls with reflective insulation on the 4' ceiling. See photo.
This meant the floor, walls, roof, windows, ceiling electric, air/conditioning, insulation, tiles, all had to be moved or relocated. Yes, we did all that and kept the bedroom at 13'6" x 12'6. We had to make it look like it was original so we had to purchase cedar siding for the addition. That also meant we had to relocate the Smoking Sun Room, another cost. All were costs born by us.
All the cost for the items agreed to in the VA approved grant proposal plans then they disagreed with the plans and we bore the prohibitive costs and time over run. We never did hear the Veterans Affairs state they screwed up. 100% of the Fault was on us.
We had one inspection by the Inspection Team of the SD VA and all seemed to be going great.
Between these times I had Open Heart Surgery at Cleveland Clinic due to war causes conditions and yes I was back up and around after eight weeks, it took a great deal longer to get even close to what I was before. The VA was notified of this development, however that didn't seem to be taken into consideration.
Then Mr. Quarles came into the picture. He didn't like me, couldn't put Native American Veterans on his letters and the Vendetta continued. He then swapped a United Veterans Beacon House in SD from SD to Fargo, ND.
Their Inspection team came in like storm troopers for 2.5 hours told us the UVBH Promise was a real "diamond in the rough" and this UVBH should be the model for all Veterans Transitional Homes in the U.S. We had 5 people witnessing all this and answering questions. They didn't come dressed for an inspection, high heels, low cut dresses and this was a Farm-Based program. Whoa! This wasn't something unknown. So they never really got off the concrete other than coming into the UVBH. Out of 29 acres they looked at less than 1.
What a shock when a couple of weeks down the track we got a huge report that had inaccuracies, lies and non-requirements. By their account we hadn't done much and the house was a shit heap. WOW. That would be great motivation for all the Volunteers and possible Volunteers that had and would make future UVBHs possible for Veterans to be housed and trained. The VA was aware the Volunteers made up the majority of labor as it was in the Grant that way.
One of the classic items from the Nutritionist was that Veterans could not eat the eggs or the meat from the Chickens they grow and take care of. The Veterans could not eat the canned foods they had been taught and canned during their stay and they could not eat or use any of the dairy products from the cows even though we have our own pasteurizers and separators. We could sell the good stuff and purchase sub-standard foods from supermarkets. That made real sense to us all. Is this a world gone MAD. I wrote to the USDA Secretary to see if we could get our Chickens, Cows and Gardens inspected and as usual with Political appointees they never respond.
I suggest that you now know that in the VA there is a great deal of incompetence and as we have all seen in the National News over the years and our dealings, The VA has murky, adversarial and unprofessional operations. They obviously cannot read, answer correspondence or questions, even the Secretary Eric Shinseki cannot or will not answer his correspondence.
Also a copy of the Telegram sent to Sec Shinseki with NO Response. This was a last ditch effort after 10+ letters had been sent to him to get some SANITY into the situation. He turned a blind eye. An accredited National Veterans Service Organization for over 30 years should expect some response from the Secretary.
Quite frankly we have taken everything on the Chin and Veterans are the losers.
Now they want to close the United Veterans Beacon Houses down and we have to pay them back. What part of Fraud is this? Where is the Veterans Affairs Accountability and Responsibility?
We did forward all this information to the VA Inspector General, their response was they were very busy investigating major problems in the VA. So where does that leave US?
The worst part is that with 3.5 acres of Organic Garden. 400 Rare Breed Chickens, Dairy Cows, Computers, Classic Car Restoration program and Indian Craft programs and woodworking programs just to name a few, that Native American Veterans will not get to receive the benefits from all the Blood, Sweat and Tears that Volunteers have shed in wanting to help and support Veterans?
To finish off, I am sick of the Veterans Affairs working against Veterans instead of working FOR Veterans. It is a National Disgrace how a Government Department that has a mandate to look after those that have born the battle and the widows and orphans have to fight vehemently against their own government for a fair go, a decent moral outcome and people that Care about Veterans and their families. Where did the VA go wrong with their mandate, the abuse of power, the feeling the money comes out of their pockets, the arrogance, lack of empathy, lack of concern, Abuse of and to Veterans? Without Veterans they wouldn't have a job, nor would possible ever hold a job unless it was as a bureaucrat!
Does anyone believe that any man or group of volunteers want to waste this amount of their lives working on a project that the VA then wants to terminate? I sure don't, life is too short to waste it. So let's get real, we want these UVBH's to OPEN and HOUSE Native Americans Veterans as they were intended, Stop the Vendetta and Discrimination and let us get on with completing the projects, it is not costing the Veterans Affairs a dime to let us complete the projects and get Veterans a second chance. So get off our Backs, shut the F**k UP and stay out of our way! Just give us the Per Diem we need for the Veterans. As you can see we're very pissed off.....
Peter J Forbes
U.S. National Commander
Veterans of the Vietnam War Inc. & The Veterans Coalition
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